Dear Friends, My Brothers and Sisters, Children of the Jewish People: From Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish people, I send you greetings of peace and wishes for a good year. Warm regards from our common home.
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish new year. At this time, Jews all over the world whether in Cape Town or Edinburgh, Miami or Buenos Aires, Jerusalem or Afula, congregate as one people, with their families, in synagogues and at home. Together, we take stock of the past year and prepare for a new one.
These days, we find ourselves at one of the most important and fateful hours of the Jewish nation. We find ourselves in the process of strengthening the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel for generations.
This is a period of internal dispute and stormy debate, but it is important that we all know, in Israel and the Diaspora, that whatever the decisions will be, there will always be “Ahavat Yisrael,” true love of Israel and the Jewish people.
In the words of our sages, “All Israel is responsible for one another.” We cannot forget for one moment that while some support the course which we are taking and others oppose it, we are all brothers, we are all Jews, and we share a common fate.
I want you to be partner in our accomplishments this year, to share with us the wonderful moments, as well as the difficult ones.
This was a year of major accomplishments: We signed a peace treaty with the Hashmite Kingdom of Jordon, the country with which we share the longest border, with whom we fought two bitter wars and suffered thousands of casualties.
Today, tens of thousands of Israeli tourists have already visited Amman and its outskirts. Ten of thousands of Jordanians have toured the streets of Israel. This is the meaning of the word “peace”.
We are continuing our conciliation with the Palestinians – and it is not easy. It is impossible to erase 100 years of hostility and bloodshed with the stroke of a pen and a single handshake. It is an ongoing and often painful process. We need to break down the tremendous psychological barriers between us, to understand the other side, to realize that they do not wish only to cause us harm.
We are about to implement the second stage of the agreement with the Palestinians. There are difficulties. Two people desire to live on the same trip of land, and we must find ways to live in peace and security, side by side.
In our talks with the Syrians, who also control Lebanon, there have been no real breakthroughs. We hope that in the coming year we will reap the fruits of peace also with Syria. Thus, we can hope to reach comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
My brothers and sisters, I will not conceal from you the difficulties which we are facing. As you know, we also face bitter enemies who violently oppose the peace. They are fundamentalist extremists who employ terrorism in order to murder both us and the peace process.
In the past year they used new form of warfare against us: suicide bombers, living bombs who inflict numerous casualties, who cost us the previous lives of soldiers and civilians alike.
We have invested heavily in manpower and protective measures, both financially and in the field. There is no way to – and no one who can – promise absolute protection against terror.
Nonetheless, I say to you that we are responsible for the lives of every Israeli everywhere, and we will do everything and make every possible effort inorder to protect them.
I want to tell you today that the buds of peace have already been a diplomatic and an economic blessing. Today there is a new openness toward us in Arab countries, and we are on the brink of establishing diplomatic relations with several of them. The economic boycott is crumbling.
We have made great strides in the economy. Our markets have grown and our prosperity has increased. Leading business experts have heaped praise on our flourishing economy. This is almost entirely due to the peace process.
Brothers and sisters, on Rosh Hashanah we also look to the future. We must commit ourselves to ensure the continuity of our people and our heritage. Together, we must work to strengthen Jewish identity, especially in a Diaspora, where assimilation is quietly eroding our numbers. This above all is the greatest task now facing the Jewish people.
In the past, both you and we, together, invested great efforts in the call, “Let My People Go!” No longer do we need to express this cry.
From now on we must dedicate our efforts under a new banner, “Let My people be Jewish!” There is still much that needs to be done to strengthen Jewish education. The State of Israel and its people are committed to working with the Diaspora to met this great challenge.
Today there are no obstacles to aliyah. The entire world, including the Arab world, permits aliyah, and anyone who wants to come to Israel will be welcomed here with open arms. There is no other nation in the world that absorbs immigrants as we do. We encourage aliyah.
In the last few years we have absorbed 700,000 immigrants, most of them from Russia and the CIS. A large number of them have already purchased their own homes and most have found suitable jobs. The process of immigration is never an easy one, yet most immigrants express a high level of satisfaction. We are proud of this.
The current Zionist challenge, yours and ours, is to absorb this outstanding aliyah as well as possible.
This Rosh Hashanah, 5756, is especially significant, with the celebration of the 3000 years of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people. Since the days of King David, Jerusalem has been the heart of the Jewish people and the focus of our dreams. Jerusalem will forever remain united, under Israeli sovereignty. We look forward to welcoming you, “This year in Jerusalem.”
Wishing you a shanah tovah, shanah shel shalom, u’gmar chatimah tovah.